Although rarely valued, our craft is one that takes just as long to master as any other profession. Why then should we not be able to live off our talent?
The challenge is that so many dancers are not familiar with business etiquette and their rights, resulting in exploitation or even worse devaluation of your craft.
Let’s face it, most of us have experienced exploitation at some point in our dance career. Unfortunately, it’s a scenario that’s likely to stick around unless change is implemented.
As a former B-boy and someone with experience in business management, I attempted to combine the two and lend my experience to help dancers protect themselves from exploitation and encourage entrepreneurship in an industry that’s very unregulated.
1. TREAT YOURSELF AS A BRAND NOT A DANCER
It’s ideal to register a company in order to transact with the formal sector. As a brand (company) you are also entitled to more rights and have access to various institutions and services that can come in handy should there ever be a circumstance. One stand-out example of a dancer who has developed herself into a brand is Courtnae’ Paul. Check out her interview here and her website here. Your personal brand forms the building blocks of your professional reputation, this you need to take it seriously. Having a strong personal brand can have numerous benefits such as:
- Personal branding allows you to distinguish yourself from everyone else
- Having a personal brand can really help you boost your credibility and showcase your expertise within the industry.
- By showcasing yourself in a certain light, you’ll be able to reach and connect with other dancers, sponsors etc. This could pave the way for new opportunities in the future.
2.REGISTER A COMPANY
In various countries there are state owned organisations that are responsible for registering a business or company for e.g. in Uganda it’s the URSB, Cameroon it’s the CFCE, in South Africa it’s the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission.
The CIPC’S functions are the following:
- Registration of Companies, Co-operatives and Intellectual Property Rights (trademarks, patents, designs and copyright) and maintenance thereof
- Disclosure of Information on its business registers
- Promotion of education and awareness of Company and Intellectual Property Law
- Promotion of compliance with relevant legislation
- Efficient and effective enforcement of relevant legislation
- Monitoring compliance with and contraventions of financial reporting standards, and making recommendations thereto to Financial Reporting Standards Council (FRSC)
- Licensing of Business rescue practitioners
- Report, research and advise Minister on matters of national policy relating to company and intellectual property law
There are also tax benefits to registering a company, as a registered business you may have a lower tax rate than if you were an individual. However, it brings with it certain responsibilities, irrespective of whether the business is trading. For example, you will need to file an annual return and pay and annual fee.
A company is incorporated by the lodging of a Notice of Incorporation (CoR 14.1) and Memorandum of Incorporation (CoR 15.1 A-E). These forms are available for download from the CIPC’s website.
The following supporting documents are required when registering your company.
- Certified ID copies of all indicated initial directors and incorporators
- Certified ID copy of applicant if not the same as one of the indicated initial directors or incorporators
- If an incorporator is a juristic person, a power of attorney is required for the representative authorised to incorporate the company and sign all related documents
- If another person incorporates the company and signs all related documents on behalf of any of the incorporators and initial directors, a power of attorney and certified ID copy of the person is required
- If a name was reserved before filing of incorporation documents, a valid name reservation document is necessary
Tip: When choosing a name for your company try avoiding names that are hard to spell or are long to pronounce. You can also conduct a check on the CIPC website to verify if a name is available.
Upon successful registration you will receive the following documents as proof that your company is registered.
Memorandum of Incorporation:
- The Memorandum of Incorporation (MoI) contains the following information:
- Details of incorporators
- Number of directors or alternate directors
- Share capital (maximum issued)
Notice of Incorporation:
- The Notice of Incorporation, which is lodged with the MoI, contains the following information:
- Type of company
- Incorporation date
- Financial year-end
- Registered address (main office)
- Number of directors
- Company name
- Whether the company name will be the registration number
- The reserved name and reservation number
- List of four company names to be checked by the Commission
Tip: Register as a private company (Pty) Ltd therefore by law your company will be treated as a separate legal entity from you but must also register as a taxpayer in its own right. It has a life separate from its owners with rights and duties of its own. Shareholders are generally not responsible for the liabilities of the company; however certain liabilities do exist. This includes where an employer or the person who performs functions similar to a director of the company, will be personally liable.
Links to various company registration authorities (Africa):
3.OPEN A BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT
It is important to keep your business banking separate from your personal banking. It’s not enough to just keep separate records. You should actually keep the money physically separate in different bank accounts. This proves your business is not a hobby.
As you conduct business, keep track of the following items:
- Taxes you owe
- Funds coming into the business
- Business expenses, from studio time and transport, to marketing etc.
- Payroll costs
4.REGISTER FOR TAX
As soon as you commence your business, you are required to register with your local Tax office to obtain an income tax reference number. In South Africa for e.g. it’s the South African Revenue Services. You must register within 60 days after you have commenced business by completing an IT77 form (available from your local SARS office or from the SARS website).
You can approach accounting agencies that specialise in company registrations. They will handle all the hassles of setting up your company for a fee. I found that PTY Company Registration if one of the most reasonable and reliable companies out there that offer a diverse amount of services for start-ups including Tax and VAT registration among others.
Logos are a critical aspect of business marketing. Having a professional looking, well designed logo builds trust and potential customers are more likely to do business with you if you have one. As the company’s major graphical representation, a logo anchors your clients and becomes the single most visible manifestation of your brand within the target market. For this reason, a well-designed logo is an essential part of your brands overall marketing strategy.
Living in the digital world, a website is now a necessity for a business, big or small. If you have a business and don’t have a website, you are probably losing a number of great opportunities for your business. A website itself can be used to accomplish many different marketing strategies to help your business grow. The web has a far wider reach than any other form of advertising. While it takes time to build up enough traffic to your website to make a worthwhile impact on your company`s marketing campaign, it costs next to nothing to do so. Your website will be the centre of your brand`s online presence.
Tip: You can register a website with AfriHost for as little as R 50 per month. Or register with Wix.com or WordPress and create free website. All providers have pros and cons to using them so find out which one best suits you. They all allow you to custom design your own site therefore you won’t need additional cost hiring a website designer.
Despite living in a digital age, the business card still remains one of the most essential elements of branding. Your business card is a reminder of your business and your brand. It introduces you to possible clients and is the first phase of brand awareness. This is why business cards are an important tool in the marketing arsenal. It is important to invest in quality business card design and business card printing.
A business card is tangible, a brand element you leave behind with someone. The success of your business card depends on how much effort you put in its design and content.
There are an estimated 4 billion internet users worldwide and 3.1 billion of them are social media users. With stats like these, it’s really a no-brainer as to why you need to be active on social media. Social media is the key to managing your personal brand online. It’s important for you to have a powerful and consistent brand image online, and in person. Bear in mind that nowadays, most people meet you online before they meet you in person, so ensure that the visual aspect of your online brand matches who you are.
It’s important to choose platforms that best suit your personal brand and focus on building and growing these platforms rather than having numerous platforms and diluting the message throughout.
Google owns YouTube, and next to Google, YouTube is one of the top search engines online. Having a YouTube channel is a powerful way to establish your online presence, connect with potential clients, employers, and sponsors, and build trust very quickly. When a person can see you in action, hear you speak, see your mannerisms, etc., it makes them feel almost as if they know you personally.
Is a visual platform that favours the creative mind. Instagram serves as a visual representation of who you are as a brand. Think of it as an informal online portfolio. Thumb stopping images and thought-provoking artwork dominate the platform.
Is an extremely interactive platform and can be a fast and powerful way to deliver important messages about your events/performances or just connect with your followers, which is what makes it one of the most popular platforms available.
With Facebook having the most daily active users when compared to other social networks, it’s not hard to see why you need to be on the platform. Facebook has consistently reinvented the way people and brands interact and present themselves on the platform
Tip: Keeping your profiles consistent can also help others easily find you – for example by using the same profile picture, name and handle across your accounts.
A quotation is a document that you provide to a potential client offering your services at a stated price, under specified conditions.
Also known as quotes, sales quotes, or sales quotations, quotations are used to let a potential client know how much your services will cost before they commit to the purchase.
Quotations must include the following:
- Your company details
- Clients details
- Date of the quotation
- Quotation reference number
- Description of the service provided
- Quantity or duration of the service
- Terms and conditions
- And payment terms
TIP: Ensure you do a thorough costing before sending out any quotation. Work out things like studio bookings for rehearsals, travelling etc. Then add a mark up to it, generally a minimum of 45% profit margin.
There’s a question of trust in all business transactions and relationships. When you’re first starting to work with a new client, neither of you know each other yet. You don’t know if they’re going to pay and they don’t know if you’re going to do the work. At some point you do need to trust each other if you’re going to work together. While most clients are good and honest people, it’s possible you can finish a gig and never receive a dime. Or they could find somebody that’s cheaper and decide to move on. Either way you put in a lot of work for nothing. Here are a few ways that will ensure you don’t take on any financial risk.
A deposit is a sum payable as a first installment on the purchase of your services or as a pledge for a contract, the balance being payable later after completion of the agreed service. Usually a 50% fee is charged on a deposit.
Without a deposit you as a dancer take on 100% of the financial risk in the project. But remember if a client has paid you a deposit then they’ve taken on the financial risk for an amount equal to that deposit
- Purchase Orders
A purchase order is a legally binding document between your client and you as the service provider. It details the items the client agrees to purchase at a certain price point. It also outlines the delivery date and terms of payment for the client. This is used in the corporate sector more often than cash deposits as it reduces financial risk for both sides.
In the event the client refuses to make payment, you are protected because the purchase order is a binding contract between both parties. If you fail to deliver the agreed service, then your client hasn’t incurred any financial losses.
Tip: Remember to indicate your approval terms on your quotation. Always ensure you receive an official PO document and not just the PO reference number. This way you have the full legal document.
An invoice, sometimes called a sales invoice, is a document sent by a provider of a product or service to the purchaser. The invoice establishes an obligation on the part of the purchaser to pay, creating an account receivable. In other words, the invoice is a written verification of the agreement between the buyer and seller of the goods or services.
Invoices are an important part of your business’s bookkeeping and accounting record keeping system because they record sales transactions.
An invoice must include the following information:
- Invoice reference number
- Your company details such as name, address contact details etc.
- Your clients details (same as above)
- Description of services (The same information as your quotation and purchase orders)
- Your company banking details
- Terms of payment
- Purchase Order Number
- Or in the case where you have been paid a deposit. The remaining 50% or balance of work should be reflected.
One of the most important sections of an invoice that you have to pay special attention to, is your payment terms. In the corporate sector most companies have a payment cycle of 30 days. What this means is, as soon as you send out an invoice the client has a 30-day period to pay your amount. Therefore, proper budgeting is essential to prevent you from getting cash strapped.
So, you’ve sent an invoice, it’s been 30 days and still no payment. Did you know that you can add interest monthly to your amount should your client default on your payment?
Normally, companies charge 2.5% or 5% but you may not exceed 8%. The interest can be added monthly but an updated invoice/ account statement reflecting the new amount must be sent to your client notifying them of the above.
Careful caution should be taken in taking too long to retrieve funds, do so within a 2-year period. Should your invoice be older than 2 years, the client can write it off as bad debt and get away without ever having to pay you.
Tip: Hire a debt collection agency to retrieve funds, especially if they are large amounts. These agencies usually charge a reasonable fee for their services. Remember, 80% percent of something is better than 100% of nothing. So, consider this option when your faced with the above circumstance.
Should you require more information, please drop us an email : Info@Rocka-Fella.com
Love, Peace and Respect, Nazir